Adolph Reed on the MMMarch

jones/bhandari djones at
Thu Oct 26 17:05:34 MDT 1995

Louis, it seems, that you are missing Reed's point.  He is arguing that
radicals put their hopes in Afro-American mayors and politicians in the 70s
and 80s and then later Jesse Jackson.  Radicals hoped that they would be
able to influence the direction of the movement led by a class of
petit-bourgeois African-Americans.  He is now arguing that the illusion is
much more dangerous that Farrakhan is or has ascended to leadership and
that radicals must be aware that they will not be able to win a hearing in
any movement in which Farrakhan is respected, much less at the helm.   You
have not responded to this particular argument.

I understand that you want to use Reed's alarmism as indication of the
necessity for further historical considerations on what fascism really is,
perhaps so as to guard against the sort of ultra-leftist action which can
at present (you seem to think) only bring defeat. I don't understand why
you are dismissing as Trotyskite other analysts, yours seems to be
classically so.

At any rate, the question is really what the Nation of Islam is, and to
answer this, as Sy Landy has suggested, we may benefit from studying what
Farrakhan himself seems to have studied--Zionism, not the fascism of
oppressor nations.

Moreover, while you dismiss leftist alarmism, perhaps you should remind
yourself of unemployment, infant mortality, murder, ad nauseaum rates in
the inner-cities of America.  As the LA riot has already proven, people are
already desperate and capital already faces mounting problems of social

The question is to what sort of measures in the inner city will Farrakhan
give his black imprimatur.  Once we determine that, then we can assess the
appropriateness of different historical analogies.


ps I wish we were reading the works recommended by Jerry Levy; I would be
happy for example to review Sohn-Rethel's book on fascism.  There is an
afterword by David Edgar about the relevance of Sohn-Rethel's analysis to
contemporary Britain.  I also think that Malcolm X's autobiography is a
waste of time; it pales in comparison to (former head of SNCC)James
Forman's The Making of Black Revolutionaries, which needs to be critically
read to see how it anticipates the untenable positions on Black nationalism
he would take a decade later.  I remember assigning both these works in
succession in a freshman composition course and the students were quite
confused about why they had only heard of Malcolm X, who comes across as a
political lightweight compared to Forman.  We can be sure that that punk
Spike Lee won't be making a movie--as Ralph has also suggested-- about
Forman and the many unheard revolutionaries to whom he introduces us in
this work.

>In the 10/31 Village Voice, Adolph Reed has the following to say in
>an article on the MMMarch:
>"In the political desperation of the moment, given the bankruptcy of
>the manifest options in black politics, many decent, honest
>progressives attended the march, trying to distance themselves from its
>official message of black male atonement, trying
>to shout their own agendas over the din of the dominant chorus whose
>'(those other) niggers ain't shit' melody was softened by the
>psyschobabble of pop spiritualism and religiosity. The ploy won't
>work now, just as it didn't work in the 1970's when black progressives
>tried to ride on the coattails of the rising stratum of black public
>officials or in the '80's when they tried it with Jesse Jackson. The
>weakness that makes us seek to join also means that we have no
>influence on the motion. The stakes are greater now than before;
>remember what happened to the German left."

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